Iowa QB Cade McNamara’s status uncertain vs. Utah State

IOWA CITY — Those waiting for a certain answer on Iowa quarterback Cade McNamara’s availability Saturday against Utah State will have to wait at least a little longer.
“I can’t put a percentage on where he’s at right now,” head coach Kirk Ferentz told reporters Tuesday. “He's been cleared medically. That's the good news. The thing we have to judge as we go along is how effective can he be?”
Asked whether “questionable” would be a fitting description for McNamara’s status, Ferentz said “absolutely.”
McNamara also did not say definitively whether he will play Saturday.
“I’m honestly just really getting better every single day,” McNamara said. “That decision is just really going to come down to the coaches and the medical staff.”
The Michigan transfer had been out after suffering a muscle injury in Iowa’s Aug. 12 open practice before returning to practice late last week.
“Looked good in practice today,” Ferentz said. “Its kind of day-by-day. We’ll see how sore he is tomorrow and see how he’s feeling. Obviously we’d love to have him out there, but we also want to make sure he can perform at a high level.“
McNamara “knew right away” the injury was not his repaired knee, which needed season-ending surgery last year.
“I was just running, and I had a soft tissue injury,” McNamara said. “It’s unfortunate, but I’ve been doing everything I can to prevent those kinds of things.”
The 6-foot-1 senior has been spending “as much time as I possibly can” toward his recovery process.
“I’m doing everything I can from a treatment standpoint, from a mental standpoint, from anything to best prepare myself to play and get back on the field,” McNamara said.
The injury kept him off the field for about two weeks, significantly reducing how much time the quarterback has had to work with his new offense in fall camp.
“It’s frustrating, but I’m just happy it happened now instead of the middle of the season,” McNamara said.
While McNamara’s on-field preparation time has been limited, he said he feels “extremely prepared” mentally.
“I’ve just remained engaged,” McNamara said. “That’s the only thing I can do are mental reps.”
He has not been one to “separate myself from the team” just because he has been injured.
“Really my role has just been encouraging, teaching and learning for the last two weeks,” McNamara said.
Wide receiver Nico Ragaini believes McNamara and him are “on the same level” after the time they’ve spent together in the spring and summer.
“He’s not shy when telling me what he thinks I should be doing, and I obviously relay the message,” Ragaini said. “Getting on the same page is huge. In football, communication is key obviously.”
From an offensive line standpoint, whether it was McNamara or Deacon Hill working behind the position group in practice does not make as big of a difference.
“It doesn’t really change a whole lot for me,” center Logan Jones said. “They know what they’re supposed to do. They give us the buck points. We just go out there and do what we do.”
Should McNamara — a former third-team all-Big Ten selection — miss any time, Ferentz said “it’s fair right now” to say Hill would be Iowa’s starter. Fellow backup Joe Labas missed much of fall camp with a soft tissue injury.
“But we’ll see how the week plays out,” Ferentz said. “Joe started out quite further than maybe I would have expected.”
Hill, officially the No. 2 option on the depth chart, has yet to attempt a pass in game action in his college career. Labas made his first career start in Iowa’s 21-0 win in the Music City Bowl, completing 14-of-24 passes with one touchdown and no interceptions.
Resting McNamara against Utah State — a 25-point underdog against the Hawkeyes — would theoretically give him another week to recover ahead of a more difficult game on Sept. 9 at Iowa State.
“Really what it boils down to, in my opinion, is can he play effectively?” Ferentz said. “And then second thing … is that going to knock him out for three weeks if he does play? So we just have to be smart about that.”
As some doubt still looms about what McNamara can do on Saturday, there is no doubt about what McNamara wants to do.
“My intention and my goal is to play as many games as I possibly can,” McNamara said. “Of course, I want to be out there with my teammates.”

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